Area fires slow down

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Burning activity was limited Tuesday on the Blacktail Ridge Fire near Plains, and the Avalanche Lake Trail remains closed in Glacier National Park due to a small fire nearby.

“Really we haven’t seen much fire growth today,” said Jennifer Costich, a fire information officer assigned to the Blacktail Ridge Fire, which has burned about 250 acres two air miles south of Plains.  

The fire was detected Sunday and it was initially sized at about 50 acres. But it quickly grew, attracting a variety of firefighting resources.

Costich said in addition to an air attack that includes two heavy helicopters, single-engine air tankers and the “Super Scooper” planes out of Glacier Park International Airport, there were about 65 people working on the fire with more arriving throughout Tuesday.

She said firelines have been built and tied in with roads on the western flank of the fire, and the lines have been holding.

“It definitely has potential still for structures being threatened, but it is not an imminent threat,” Costich said, noting that while the fire is close to the town of Plains, it is even closer to a subdivision south of town.

In Glacier Park, firefighters have held the Avalanche Wildland Fire on Mount Brown to about 45 acres since it was detected last Saturday.

More than 30 people are working on the fire, including eight smokejumpers, along with helicopter support.

Some of the fire area has rocky and steep terrain that has limited its growth, but the popular Avalanche Lake Trail remains closed until further notice.

Elsewhere in Montana, the last residents evacuated from a wildfire that destroyed eight houses south of Livingston are being allowed back into their neighborhoods.

The Pine Creek Fire was 45 percent contained Tuesday after burning through the village of Pine Creek last week.

Spokeswoman Terina Mullen says favorable weather forecast in coming days should help in the fight against the 8,000-acre fire. But returning residents are being told to keep their bags packed in case the fire picks up again.

Smoke from wildfires in Idaho and Montana led state officials to label the air quality “unhealthy” Tuesday in Bozeman, Butte and Hamilton.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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